Army Integrates Behavioral Health

Primary Care Managers (PCM) in Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) historically have provided the majority of behavioral health treatment to service members. However, for a variety of reasons, they are often limited to prescribing medications and frequently refer patients to behavioral health treatment through the private sector.

Several years ago, the Army implemented Patient-Centered Medical Homes now called Army Medical Homes which requires all medical homes to provide integrated behavioral health services.

A large percent of patients suffer from behavioral health symptoms at some point in their life. Unfortunately for some people these symptoms won’t be identified or treated until they begin to have a significant impact on the person’s life.

“Being able to identify the symptoms early and offering appropriate treatment in a timely manner could potentially lead to a reduction of more serious symptoms down the road”, explains CDR (Dr) Aditya Bhagwat, Program Manager for Primary Care Behavioral Health in Army Medical Homes.

Today, Internal Behavioral Health Consultants or IBHCs along with Behavioral Health Care Facilitators (BHC), have been integrated into the system. IBHCs and BHCs are now able to go directly into primary care clinics and work as full time Army Medical home team members.

Initially, they assist the team with early identification of behavioral health needs which enables more patients to receive appropriate level treatment in primary care while continuing to allow those patients with more significant needs to access specialty behavioral health clinics.

The system enables the IBHC to work with the patient to provide individual strategies to get appropriate healthcare. PCMs can now consult with IBHCs on patients with chronic pain, diabetes, weight, depression, tobacco cessation sleep difficulties and many other concerns.

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